The rise of ‘drunkorexia’

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A scary new trend among college students combines starvation with binge drinking, says Researchers say “drunkorexia” now affects as many as one in four college students, who diet all day so that they can drink at night without gaining weight.

In one recent study of 22,000 students at 40 universities, those who reported working out or dieting to shed pounds were 20 percent more likely than their peers to down five or more drinks at a time. Those who had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight in the previous month were 76 percent more likely to binge drink. Relying on alcohol for calories deprives young people of protein and vitamins, so drunkorexia, like anorexia, can lead to bone loss, depression, heart problems, and organ failure.

“Alcohol is a desert of nutrients compared to food,” says Mark Peluso, director of the Middlebury College health center. People who drink on an empty stomach absorb alcohol more rapidly, becoming drunker faster. That increases their odds of alcohol I poisoning or engaging in unprotected sex.